During the first 12 days of November this year, Alice received almost 200 millimeters of rainfall, with over 100 milliliters occurring within the space of 24hrs last Wednesday. Just to put this into a bit of context, Alice Springs is an arid zone, meaning we don’t receive a lot of rainfall normally, and the last time we experienced rainfall like this was in 2001! With all this rain, our usually dry riverbeds began to flow rather ferociously, and our town was brought to a standstill.
After the flood waters had dried up and the debris on the roads had been cleared away, it was prime time to go exploring the many permanent and semi-permanent waterholes in the surrounding area now that they had been flushed out and re-filled. My quick online check on the NT Road Report website indicated the roads out to the West Macdonell Ranges were closed due to damage from localized flooding, so the East Macs it was! We decided to hit up John Hayes Water Hole.
John Hayes Waterhole is about an hours drive from Alice. The majority of the drive is on a sealed two lane road, but be aware that it will become a single lane sealed road before changing into a corrugated dirt road which will take you into the Trephina Gorge campgrounds. To get to John Hayes, you need to turn off about 4km before you get to the campgrounds onto a 4WD track. Please do not take a non-4WD drive car onto this road. At the time of our adventure there were a number of large, deep puddles and washouts along the track. The last part of the track is also quite rocky and you will suffer without decent suspension.
I was surprised to see how busy it was when we arrived. We actually had trouble finding a car park! But it was completely worth it.
We decided not to do the Chain of Ponds walk even though I think it would have been AMAZING because we arrived quite late in the afternoon and the walk takes around 3 hours to complete. Instead, we slung our backpacks on and followed the sign guiding us to the primary swiming rock hole. Because we have had so much rain the first waterhole was completely full and we had two choices (1) swim across to get to the next rock hole and waterfall, or (2) climb around the edge. We chose option two.
At times the climb was a bit tricky since some of the rocks were slippery, there were over hangs and at times we had to walk through a bit of water, but it was well worth it to emerge at the other side and be met with this view.
A couple of the fellas I was with chose to climb the almost sheer rock face next to the waterhole to get to another waterhole above the waterhole, but I chose not to risk it and just enjoy floating in the bottom pool.
We stayed for a couple of hours, swimming and sunbathing on the rocks before we trekked back out and started the drive home.